It’s a “whole new world” for Cornelius Davis ‘13, returning to Orlando this month on the national Broadway tour of Disney’s Aladdin. The show opens January 22 at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, and some of the cast members are staging a benefit, “Songs From a Whole New World,” on Monday, Jan. 27. “This is the first time we’re doing a benefit all about new music,” Davis told Matt Palm of the Orlando Sentinel in an interview this week. Davis graduated from UCF in 2013 with a degree in musical theatre and minor in dance. UCF patrons may recognize him as Coalhouse Porter from Theatre UCF’s 2012 production of Ragtime.
Continue reading the Orlando Sentinel article: UCF graduate, ‘Aladdin’ cast mates stage benefit in Orlando
While Davis is in Orlando, we had the chance to ask him about his current endeavors and life after UCF.
What have you been up to these days?
Currently, I am in the ensemble of the first national North American tour of Disney’s Aladdin, finishing up our first leg of the tour which concludes at the end of April. I’m so excited that in addition to performing in Aladdin at Dr. Phillips Center, I will also be debuting a song I wrote with my fellow company members “Songs From A Whole New World.” All proceeds from this night of original music will go to the incredible non-profit organization, “Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS.”
How did your time at UCF help you get where you are?
I am forever indebted to UCF for giving me a strong foundation to enter the professional musical theatre world; the training I received gave me a wide field of study I was able to explore while perusing my undergraduate degree. In this profession, the more diverse we are in our abilities, the more marketable we are to prospective employers.
Thanks to the dance minor program, I was able to drop in on as many dance classes as I could fit into my schedule; sometimes two to three classes a day. Upon graduation, I left feeling confident and secure to walk into any type of audition: acting, singing or dancing. In a business that’s heavily oversaturated with talent, this is just one example of how UCF gave me a leg up to find success.
What piece of advice would you offer to current students who wanted to get where you are?
If I had to give advice to current musical theatre students it would include two things: use your time to soak up as much knowledge about the field as possible; take that extra dance class, participate in that student film, pick up and learn that new instrument you’ve been dying to try. The more you diversify yourself, the better chance you will have in standing out from the pack.
Finding your authentic, unique voice is equally important. In a sea people, there is only one you, and that is your superpower! Spend time figuring out what you want to say with your art, how you want to say it, and what makes you special. Coming into an audition with strong sense of self and point of view will set you light years ahead of the crowd.
Davis will be delivering this advice directly to UCF students. While he’s in Orlando, he will be stopping by campus to talk about his journey and to answer questions from those with similar aspirations. Break a leg, Cornelius! We can’t wait to see you!